FEATURE: Kraig Valentino

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I’m Kraig, a London-based registered vegetarian/ vegan Nutritional Therapist and Herbalist.  I am an activist, health educator and Founder of Health And Rejuvenation, a comprehensive provider of health and wellness services to individuals, groups and corporations. I offer 1-2-1 consultations & health coaching to help you reach your goals.

I embarked on this journey seeking knowledge of self, wanting to change my life and the lives of others for the better, after years of addiction and wanting to improve my health, mind, body, and soul. A whole foods plant-based diet led to gaining more energy, mental clarity, and emotional well being. Yoga, meditation, and other spiritual practices helped alter my paradigm. While studying nutrition I found a greater love for nature and myself like never before. Everything is interconnected, and through finding that interconnection, we can connect and unite.

My lifestyle is my stand against the current food system, which places profit before people and the environment. I’m helping others achieve their health goals, hoping for a shift in social consciousness. I help people unlock the power of food to heal the body and achieve optimal health. Want to get started? Go to my website and grab a FREE copy of my eBook- Secrets To a Happier Healthier You. Lots of helpful information, Health and fitness tips, Plant-Based Recipes + More.

People often ask me what’s so great about a plant- based diet, other than what it can do for your health and the planet. I would love to see the liberation of animals in my lifetime, especially being the descendant of slaves who shared similar inhumane treatment. Enslaved, reared for profit, slaughtered, experimented on (most of the time with no pain relief), shackled, chained, caged, shipped, put in zoo’s...the list goes on. Speaking to other melanated people who often believe that being nonhuman makes another life less than their own shows the power and mental conditioning of the oppressor and todays ruling class.

In disconnecting from the oneness of life that connects us all, we lose the respect and synergy all indigenous people shared on the planet. The thought that a more superior being should decide freedoms, protection, or the right to live, always leaves me baffled, People had to (and still have to) fight for justice and the liberation of black people and there has been an awakening. Now it’s also time for the animals.

Social Media

Website: www.healthandrejuvenation.com

Instagram: @healthandrejuvenation

Facebook:  @healthandrejuvenationofficial

New Plant-Based Web Series: "The Turnip"

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The Turnip is a new and exciting web series that focuses on plant-based living, and features some of the most well-respected African American restaurant owners in the plant based & vegan community. In the show, Kyna, Jerome, and Jason interview restaurant owners and try delicious vegan foods! Black Vegans Rock asked Kyna a few questions about their show, as well as why they went vegan.

BVR: Are all of the hosts of the show vegan? If so, could you share why you all went vegan?

Kyna: Yes, all of the hosts are vegan. We are all in different stages in our walk. I have been plant-based for almost 2 years (will be 2 years on May 8, 2018). I gave up beef and pork over 25 years ago. I finally went plant-based in 2016 after dealing with fibroids for over a decade and I knew surgery wasn't an option for me. I knew with changing my diet, I would be able to eliminate the fibroids, which I did. As a result, I have become an advocate for plant-based eating and womb wellness. 

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Jerome has been plant-based for nearly 5 years. He was actually introduced to plant-based eating after his then 11- year old daughter asked to be taken on a food tour at Whole Foods. After trying the plant-based options and learning the health benefits of eating this way, he decided he would give it a try. His family has a history of heart disease, which is what his father Dr. Graves passed away from in his 40's. Recalling his father's passing on Christmas, he vowed that he would take better care of himself for his children and wife.  

Jason has been plant-based for 3 months. Though he is new in his walk, he has always incorporated plant-based menu options in his diet. After completing a 30 day water-fast, he noticed the elimination of inflammation in his joints, he discovered new found energy and the clarity from not eating meat, and he vowed to never look back. 

BVR: Why did you decide to create The Turnip? Are you going to go all over the country to check out vegan restaurants, or are you staying in GA?

Kyna: We decided to create "The Turnip" because we wanted to provide a plant-based approach to the African American community (by African American owners). Our community is disproportionately affected by heart disease, cancers, infertility, diabetes, (in which the three of us have been affected first hand) and we knew that food was the culprit. We couldn't sit back any longer. We wanted to do our part to help. We wanted to dispel the myth that African Americans only eat and feed our communities fried chicken and pork chops. We wanted to provide an entertaining yet insightful view into plant-based eating. It's not all exclusive to a certain group, it's all inclusive and exposes you to a wide range of foods that is healthier for you. Therefore, "The Turnip" wanted to highlight the resources out there and discuss the health benefits of certain herbs and ingredients. Also, we feature the most well-respected vegans in the African American community. We started with Atlanta but will travel to other parts of the country. Our next season will be filmed on an island, outside of the U.S.!

We look forward to coming to a city and dining with you! 

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Instagram: @turnipcrew

Facebook: @theturnip

Twitter: @theturnip

YouTube: @theturnip

FEATURE: Desirée Daniels

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Hi! I’m Desirée, a new member of the vegan community. I adopted a vegan lifestyle in January of 2017, after watching a documentary (you guessed it!) on Netflix entitled “Food Choices”. If you have not seen it, I encourage you to check it out! It’s everything you want to know, but don’t want to know about what we eat.

Prior to January, I had been pescatarian for maybe 6-8 months, still eating seafood and dairy. I grew up in a normal meat-eating family and had really only been exposed to vegetarianism upon arriving to college. Of course, I had heard of it, but certainly didn’t know anyone who didn’t eat meat. That’s crazy talk! Because of this, I never thought anything of my consumption of animal products. I never realized that what I ate was a choice. It was my choice, not society’s.

Don’t get me wrong…I loved meat! I loved animal products! Especially cheese! For a long time I never thought it was a “bad thing.” Once I began to educate myself more on the links between our diet and common health problems (not to mention the global impact of consuming animal products), I felt a responsibility to myself to at least try. To try to be better, to try to embrace a new lifestyle; even if it’s not encouraged or made popular by the mainstream. There’s a social and communal aspect that we as Americans share, that is often disrupted if someone declines a particular food. I’m no longer scared to be this person.

BVR: So, what made you want to start a blog?

I’m black and I’m vegan. How often do you see that? I’m often asked, “What do you eat?” So instead of telling you, I wanted to show you. Being vegan isn’t nearly as daunting as it may seem (and this is coming from a person that recently, thought all vegans were tree-hugging crazy people). Honestly, it just requires that you have an open mind and be willing to try new things. I want to show people that there’s more to being vegan than boring salads (something I eat very rarely) and encourage folks to get back in the kitchen! I truly believe that if I can do it, anyone can (hence, the blog name).

We got this! :)

Social Media

Blog: www.icanyoucanvegan.com
Facebook: facebook.com/ICanYouCanVegan
Instagram: @icanyoucanvegan
 

FEATURE: Karen Moore

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Thank you for allowing me to share a bit of my story with Black Vegans Rock!

In February of 2016 I got a bacterial infection that turned septic. I was hospitalized for 9 days and sent home with an infusion pump that administered antibiotics 24/7. As a result of becoming septic, my kidneys almost failed and my glucose levels shot through the roof. While in the hospital I had to have insulin throughout the day to try and control my blood sugar levels.

It took me more than a year to regain my strength and to start feeling somewhat normal again. Fast forward to April, 2017 I was still having issues with my blood sugar, edema, and neuropathy. During this time I made a life changing decision. I realized that in order for me to live and regain control of my life I had to do something drastic. I started doing research on how an alkaline plant based diet could be greatly beneficial. I started reading up and incorporating Dr. Sebi's methodologies into my regimen.

I began weaning myself off of sugar, pork and beef. Each time I ate beef my feet would swell enormously and I realized that the uratic acid was the culprit. I started eating more chicken, turkey and fish and incorporated more meatless meals into my diet. By the time June rolled around I was able to fully transition to a vegan lifestyle. I'm so blessed and excited because I am feeling so much better, the sensation is slowly returning to my feet and they no longer swell.

My diabetes is now under control and my blood sugar levels have returned to normal.

I was able to regain my life by making changes in how and what I ate. I currently spend my time reading and researching healthy living and how foods impact our bodies and overall health. Almost losing my life in 2016 has changed it for the better. I didn't understand why back then but I surely do now.

Prior to becoming ill, I was a Wedding and Special Events Planner for 18 years. I thought that this was the dream job. I honestly thought it was the be all-end all. But it pales in comparison to the love, joy, passion and excitement that I have for health and wellness.

I received my life coaching certification in 2012 and really wasn't sure how to use it or what to do with it until now. My desire is to help women take back their life and health. 

We all have to have a starting point so in August I created a closed group on Facebook called P.H.A.T (Pretty, Healthy and Transformed) Girls Thrive. To date, I have about 60 women in the group. We have a monthly call where I offer group coaching to everyone! It is a chance for them to share their success, their challenges and frustrations. I absolutely adore these women as they certain bring purpose and meaning to my life.

I created the group for women who are interested in taking back their life while re-gaining freedom and control of their health through transitioning and thriving on a low fat, whole foods, and alkaline plant based vegan diet.

My goal is to turn P.H.A.T Girls Thrive into a Health and Wellness company that empowers, teaches, and supports the health and wellness of women. In December of 2017 I was awarded a full scholarship to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition so I am now studying to be a Certified Integrative Health and Nutrition Coach

Over the years I have watched too many of my friends and family members pass away because of poor health. It is my heart’s desire to have the opportunity to help and empower other women. I love sharing my journey as it is a wonderful opportunity to be able to go back into the world and my community and pay it forward. I have found my calling, purpose and mission in life. I just celebrated my 8 month veganversary and I have never felt so alive and inspired to continue learning so that I can teach and pour into others. I truly now understand how health is your greatest wealth. I truly feel as if my life has just begun. The BEST is truly yet to come! :-)

Social Media

Email: karen.moore44@icloud.com

Website: www.phatgirlzthrive.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PHATGirlzThrive

FEATURE: Debra Murphy

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What does it mean to you to be a woman of colour and a vegan?

Growing up biracial in a predominantly white community, I already felt different. And that experience makes you stronger, less afraid to stand out for other reasons, because you already do. Becoming vegan made me feel different from the mainstream in another way, and a positive one, in choosing to live as ethically and compassionately as I can. It also highlighted some preconceptions about what a black or mixed race person is. This idea that "Veganism is a white thing," and that it's elitist or exclusive. To me, it never felt that way. And with heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems being so prevalent in the black community, I was looking for a diet and lifestyle that would improve my day to day quality of life, and have longer-term health benefits as well. To me, veganism is about choosing an ethical and environmentally sustainable way of living, and about providing good quality plant-based foods and good nutrition for everyone on this planet we share. It's accessible to everyone. It doesn't have to be expensive - you just need to learn to cook.

The Jamaican tradition of Ital cooking that comes to me from my mother's side is a brilliant example of this in practice: it's founded on great food with bold flavors, not expensive ingredients. She used a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and beans, all cooked from scratch. Growing up, I also had friends from different cultures who exposed me to the rich diversity of vegetarian cuisine - south Asian, Chinese, Middle Eastern. So I already had a head start. And, I might have the world's largest collection of vegan cookbooks - it's a bit of an obsession.

How did people react to your decision to live a vegan life?

I was confident and resolute in own my choice, so people's reactions didn't really affect me very much. Holiday meals and traditional foods were a challenge sometimes. People often have strong emotional ties to the foods they eat, and some people have a defensive reaction, as though my choices reflect badly on them. Others are more curious. If they're curious, I usually take the opportunity share my experiences and the things I've learned over almost a decade as a vegan. I always try to lead with kindness, without judging or preaching. Above all, I try to lead by example, and support people who want to find out more.  

When did you first hear about veganism?

Both sides of family had ill health from their 40’s onwards, so I started to do my own research into a healthier diet. I read a lot - The China Study by T. Colin Campbell made a strong impression on me. Ethical reasons came later, as I learned more about the violence our food system does to animals and people, watching films like Forks Over Knives, or Earthlings. Then I was inspired by the likes of Breeze Harper, Angela Davis, Raj Patel, and Bryant Terry, who got me fired up about the links between social justice and food justice. As a student in the US, I became aware of food deserts in black communities, that access to good quality food is shaped by factors like race and economic status. I decided I couldn't be vegan without being concerned about the politics of the wider food system: the conditions of migrant workers, or the environmental racism evident in industrial-scale hog farming, for example. It's about more than just the food we choose to eat - it's about how it is produced, and whether it's sustainable.

What advice do you have for others considering a switch to a vegan diet?

Do your research on nutritional needs, and make sure your choices are covering everything your body needs to thrive. Find out more about the impact of factory farming on the lives of people of color and our environment. Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people. And learn to cook!

How has your veganism influenced your career path?

I knew I wanted my career to align with my personal values, so I got a job in the natural health sector, and I’ve never looked back. Before long, I dreamed of having a brand of my own. But my real passion is vegan advocacy. And now the two have finally come together with the launch of Bumble Bloom, our plant-based honey alternative. My partner James and I have worked really hard to create a brand that’s focused on positive, ethical, and sustainable choices. We’re very excited to see it grow! The future is vegan!

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Instagram: @bumblebloom

FEATURE: Royce Ashcroft and Imari Spigner

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Royce Ashcroft and Imari Spigner are an active vegan couple located in Florida. Royce has been vegan since January 2016, and Imari has been vegan since April 2017. The couple met each other at an open mic show that Royce was the host of in April 2017 and it has been love ever since. The original purpose for Mr. Ashcroft to transition to a vegan lifestyle was to purify and decalcify his pineal gland for spiritual clarity and easier access to lucid dreaming and astral projection. As he continued along his journey, he learned about all the amazing health benefits, environmental benefits, animal slaughter houses, and all the tasty foods that being vegan has to offer. He shared this with his new girlfriend and she transitioned and has no plans on ever going back.

Together they have started Noor 17, which is a VEGAN modeling & talent network. Noor 17 hosts a wide range of events such as social mixers, fashion shows, public speaking workshops, and the list goes on and on. Currently, the network is gearing up for their first major network event week, Vegan Awareness Week, which will take place November 10th – November 17th. The vegan awareness week will launch with “The Great Vegan Debate” which will be a parliamentary-style debate with an audience of 200 as 4 panelists of vegans and 4 omnivores debate about living a plant-based and organic lifestyle.

Each day of the week will feature its own activities such as Veg5k, The Vegan Battle of the Bands, and the Grand Finale of the week, The 2018 Florida Vegan Awards & Model Extravaganza. The Awards show will be held at the omni-prestigious Bob Carr Theatre in the Doctor Phillips Center in the heart of Downtown Orlando. The 2,400-seat auditorium will be filled with large trophies given away to top vegan models, athletes, businesses, restaurants, you name it! The awards show will be hosted by America’s Got Talent semi-finalists and Orlando career native, Preacher Lawson! Many A-list celebrities who are vegan are on the invite list whose names will be released closer to the show date. Noor 17 is always looking for more plant-based friends to help with the cause so if you’re interested in getting involved, please like and find Noor 17 on Facebook in the links provided below.

Social Media

FACEBOOK:
Noor 17 page: http://facebook.com/noor17vegan
The Vegan Gala: https://www.facebook.com/events/215077995704948     The Great Vegan Debate: https://www.facebook.com/events/2116150941942179/
The Veg5k: https://www.facebook.com/events/481660182228001/    
The 2018 Florida Vegan Awards & Model Extravaganza: https://www.facebook.com/events/170945230129887/

FEATURE: Brian Mays

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Brian Mays has been vegan for over six months and he has a vegan, fluoride-free toothpaste called Smile Natural Toothpaste. He uses the sales to give back to children's education.

He was inspired by the Black Panthers' free breakfast program for children that was funded by the sales of their newspaper. Brian Mays recently went vegan about 6 months after learning about the disparities in healthy food options in the black community compared to other groups. This coupled with a recent diagnosis of diabetes with his father (who was a big meat eater) was enough to convince him to switch to a plant based diet. 

To connect with Brian personally, follow @smile_brianmays. To support his mission check out @smilenaturaltoothpaste or feelsgoodtosmile.com.

His work has also been covered on ESPN's The Undefeated website

 

FEATURE: Edric

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Edric's friend Pam (pictured below) reached out to us and asked us to share his story with our Black Vegans Rock audience.

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She writes, "Ed and I both work for the London Fire Brigade as operational fire fighters. Ed hasn’t had the easiest time recently and I’d like to do something for him that will make him smile. Last June Ed attended the Grenfell Fire in West London and was very affected by it." 

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Edric became a vegan about 18 months ago and it has changed his life. He is writing a book partly because he’s so enthusiastic about being a vegan and because muscles do not equate to meat. His book is about his personal journey and how being a vegan has helped him.

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Ed lost his mother to a bowel related cancer when he was younger (about 21) and then lost his best friend to cancer during the same period of his life.  He has also lost other family members to the same. He decided he wanted to live a healthier life and started looking at ways to be healthier. Then he saw a documentary called 'Earthlings' and became a vegan over night and has not looked back. 

He discusses the impact that meat farming and the transport of meat around the globe has on the planet.  He also has serious concerns about animal welfare around farming.

 He also wants to encourage more men to become vegans, especially men like his old gym buddies. He wants to show them that being a vegan doesn't mean you have to stop training to gain muscle. 

Follow Edric on Social Media

Instagram: @EdTheVegan